Newcomers to Tampa will quickly learn that Cigar City residents love to have a good time. This is evident in the city's packed and exciting event calendar. With festivals of all kinds including fireworks, parade floats, live bands and fabulous food vendors showcasing their fare, there is no shortage of fun to be had. Whether its food, cocktails, art or family-friendly fun that new arrivals are after, Tampa won’t disappoint.
Here’s our take on Tampa’s best annual events.
Annual events in Tampa
Gasparilla Pirate Festival (January)
Described as ‘The New Orleans’ Mardi Gras but with pirates’, the Gasparilla Pirate is one of Tampa’s favourite annual events. Dating back to 1904, the highlight is the Parade of the Pirates, when sea-faring buccaneers invade the bay of a giant pirate ship and take to Bayshore Boulevard. There is also an illuminated children’s parade that takes place in Ybor City. A colourful festive event that can be enjoyed by Tampa residents of all ages.
Florida State Fair (February)
Each February, the annual Florida State Fair takes place in Tampa. This historic event was traditionally staged to showcase Florida’s agricultural industry. Today, the State Fair attracts thousands of people each year. Visitors are treated to live performances by local musicians, food stalls and a variety of art exhibits. Children are fully catered for with plenty of fairground rides to keep them entertained. It's an especially good opportunity for new arrivals to meet other local residents and get acquainted with the area’s culture.
Taste of South Tampa (March)
Held at the Tampa Garden Club, this has become one of Florida’s premier food festivals over the last couple of decades. Ticket holders can have their fill with unlimited food and drink samples from some of the state’s best restaurants as well as up-and-coming eateries. There is plenty of live entertainment which adds to the festive atmosphere. The dedicated Kid Zone is a perfect place for the little ones to have some fun while their parents enjoy a day of gastronomic indulgence.
Tampa Pride (March)
Join the crowds of Tampa residents as they take to the streets to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Taking place over two days, Tampa Pride raises funds for various programmes that support these underrepresented communities. The event is bright, colourful and noisy, and features a broad range of art exhibits, photo displays and musical performances. With family-friendly areas, parents can rest assured that the kids will be kept entertained too.
Tampa RiverFest (May)
This free event takes place along the entire length of the Tampa Riverwalk, and features a number of stages showcasing some great music acts. Encompassing the best of the Cigar City’s food, culture and music, this is a fun-filled event for the whole family. Many museums in the downtown area offer discounted admission during RiverFest so be sure to pop in. Without a doubt, the hot air balloon glow that takes place in the evening is a RiverFest highlight.
Tampa Bay Margarita Festival (May)
New residents are sure to have a great time as they join Tampa residents and indulge in a sneaky margarita (or five!). The festival features a showcase of margarita tastings, a lineup of local musical talent and an impressive fireworks display to end off the night. With all the cocktails being handcrafted by professional bartenders, festival-goers are bound to be in for a treat.